You may think of salad as boring or bland, but I see it as one of the BEST ways to get in loads of vitamins and nutrients in one simply satisfying and beautiful meal. BUT (yes, there's even a BUT to salads!) there are a few ways that an intentionally healthy salad can turn in to just the opposite-- full of bad carbs, refined sugars and saturated fats. Here's a little list of ways to keep your salads healthy and vibrant...
1. Salad dressing ~ make your own! Period. The majority of salad dressings on the shelf at the grocery store are loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients. Think of it this way, the less ingredients on the label, the better, but the best and easiest solution is to just make your own! All you have to do is combine your favorites of the following ingredients to come up with a super healthy and delicious dressing!
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Some type of vinegar (balsamic, apple cider, red wine are some of my faves)
- Fresh squeezed citrus juices
- Crushed black and/or red peppers
- Fresh diced ginger
- Fresh minced garlic
2. Refined flours - adding croutons or chip strips (such as in a taco or caesar salad), and eating a salad inside of a tostada can be tempting, but this also adds undesirable fats and refined carbs & calories. A salad can be quite filling and delicious without any of those things.
3. Cheese - I LOVE cheese! I could eat it all day, but too much of it is not a good thing! Not only can it hinder your healthful goals, but many people can't even have it because it contributes largely to inflammation and a host of other health issues. If you like to and are able to add cheese to your salads, just remember to take it light and easy!
4. Lack of protein - I've learned this over time... that my salads were lacking in something - protein! This one has been tough for me in times where I don't prefer to eat meat, but there are lots of meat-free protein choices that go great on salads: hard-boiled eggs, beans, organic tempeh and all types of nuts and seeds make for great protein alternatives. For the best meat options, best to follow the Whole30 guide as much as possible.
5. Sodium - I've seen this debated on many occasions, but I do believe it can be all too easy to have too much sodium in our standard American diets. It's in EVERYTHING because it does its job of getting you hooked on the foods that it's in. If you're eating a whole food diet, you don't have to worry as much, but as always moderation is key!
*Aside from salt, many people aren't aware that most ranch dressings (not the healthier choice to begin with) are loaded with MSG. Best to avoid those bottled dressings as much as possible!
6. Lastly, FRESH and COLORFUL is best! Most items from boxes and cans have added ingredients that are best to avoid. The more fresh, raw and colorful foods you can consume, the better! The more colors that you add to your salads and dishes, the wider variety of vitamins and nutrients you can assure you're consuming. Mix it up and make it beautiful!!
Have a healthy and colorful day!! :)